The Second Open Heart Surgery

This is part five of my son’s story.  Read part one, two, three, and four.

This post shows a picture of my son after surgery which may be a trigger for some. Please read with discretion.

After the very upsetting delay of my son’s surgery I was overwhelmed.  I couldn’t believe how anxiously I could want my son to have an open heart surgery.  This is something I felt I should be dreading. Even now I can’t quite lay to rest my anxiety over wanting something I shouldn’t ever have wanted.  But I suppose it was mostly wanting the waiting to be over more than the surgery to actually happen.

Before the surgery we were given a cleanse to rub on

My happy, smiling boy just a few days before surgery.
My happy, smiling boy just a few days before surgery.

his chest twice a day that would help kill any bacteria that could possibly be residing there.  I remember him screaming in the tub and trying to last the entire 60 seconds before washing it off of him.  It made his skin so red and irritated.

The day before the surgery (this one was called the Glenn Procedure) we moved hotel rooms again, closer to the hospital.  My husband was there again, my kids sent off to a babysitter.  We had a quiet dinner, knowing that the next day was going to be emotionally draining.  We didn’t sleep the best either so when our early morning wake up call happened, we were already waiting for it.

We were taken back to a room in the hospital to put on all the medical bracelets, sign all the papers, meet with the doctors, surgeons, anesthesiologists, and nurses who would be participating in the surgery.  Before they took him back I gave him a huge hug and he had the sweetest smile on his face.  He was calm and comfortable.  I hoped for some sign of wanting me when I handed him over to the nurse but he kept his huge smile even as they walked down the hallway together.

My husband and I took our pager (a poor exchange, if you ask me) and went to the waiting area. We sat. I remember downloading a palm reading app on my ipad- anything mindless to try to not think about the fact that my son was being operated on.

About halfway through the surgery I called and asked for an update.  He was doing great.  I needed to not worry.  But I did.  And when they finally said they were wheeling him into the PICU we made a beeline there.  We still had to wait out in the waiting area until he was in his room and the nurses were ready for us.  The doctor came out to brief us and told us there were absolutely no complications and he did very well.

After his second surgery, my son had just as many tubes and wires as his first.
After his second surgery, my son had just as many tubes and wires as his first.

This time I wasn’t nearly as shocked to see him as the first time, but it still made my heart hurt to see my baby hooked up to so many wires and tubes.  This time was much the same as the first surgery.  It took him a day or so to wake up from under all the anesthesia and pain medicine.  It took him a day or so to be weaned off the oxygen and have the extra IV taken out and have the tube in his chest pulled.

I opted to be in the room when they pulled his chest tube but I couldn’t watch.  I heard my baby crying, but I couldn’t rush over to help him because he was still surrounded by nurses.  But once that tube was out, I could finally hold him.  I was shocked by how heavy he felt! But he felt so comfortable next to me!

I finally got to hold him!  It felt like a long time, but it was actually only about two days.
I finally got to hold him! It felt like a long time, but it was actually only about two days.

Again, he healed quickly and we were sent to the “floor” fairly quickly.  We were given a slew of medications again to help drain fluids and help his blood pressure and all else that comes from having a heart surgery. We were discharged after only 5 days in the hospital.

My son seemed to be so hyped up on the drugs that he didn't really notice if I was there or not.  You can see his eyes look vacant and in this picture he is just noticing his hands.
My son seemed to be so hyped up on the drugs that he didn’t really notice if I was there or not. You can see his eyes look vacant and in this picture he is just noticing his hands.

The biggest thing that worried me during this recovery period was how “out of it” my son seemed for a few days.  The pain medicine made him so docile that I felt like he should fall asleep but he didn’t. He would lay still for hours, just watching the room.  The new blood flow also made it so he was very red or “ruddy”.  There was so much heat in his face (without a fever) that his cheeks chapped.  Eventually that extra redness went away.

Once we

I took this as we were leaving the hospital. It felt so weird to be allowed to just...leave... like that. Where were the monitors and wires? Or the doctors who would try to stop us?
I took this as we were leaving the hospital. It felt so weird to be allowed to just…leave… like that. Where were the monitors and wires? Or the doctors who would try to stop us?

were discharged we went through the same procedure of having to change hotels and get follow up appointments with our cardiologist.  We were required to stay for about another week before being officially discharged and allowed to all travel to our new base.

At our new base we had immediate appointments with our new cardiologist and pediatrician and then settled in to see how life was going to be with our whole family in tact!

2 thoughts on “The Second Open Heart Surgery

  1. Hoping everything went well with your son. My heart skipped when I read “Glen Procedure”. I had the exact same procedure. Followed by a fontan shortly after. If you have any questions about what his life will look five,ten,twenty years from now don’t be shy! Hoping for the best

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    • Thanks for reading. We are going into the Fontan procedure in only a few more months. This week starts the cardiology appointment, scheduling the cath procedure, etc in order to start preparing for the surgery. I’m not nervous at the moment, but I’m sure it’ll build up once we start going to doctors again!

      Like

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